Post-treatment and agricultural reuse of digestate from low-tech digesters: A comparative life cycle assessment

Kurt Ziegler-Rodriguez, Irene Josa, Liliana Castro, Humberto Escalante, Marianna Garfí

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The objective of this study was to analyse the environmental impacts of the post-treatment and agricultural reuse of digestate from a low-tech digester implemented in a small-scale farm in Colombia using the Life Cycle Assessment methodology. The scenarios considered were: 1) digestate post-treatment with a sand filter and its reuse in agriculture; 2) digestate post-treatment with a vermifilter and the production of compost, and 3) untreated digestate directly applied on the agricultural land (current scenario). Moreover, an economic analysis was also addressed. Results showed that the vermifilter was the most environmentally friendly scenario. It considerably reduced (by up to 9 times) the environmental impacts compared to the other scenarios. From an economic point of view, the implementation of the vermifilter generated an increase in farmers' income (up to 70 $ year−1) since it avoids buying synthetic fertilizer. Finally, the implementation of a vermifilter for the post-treatment and agricultural reuse of digestate from low-tech digesters showed to have both environmental and economic benefits. This technology can help to promote the circular bioeconomy in small-scale farms, reducing poverty and improving the standard of living in rural areas.

Original languageEnglish
Article number164992
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Volume894
DOIs
StatePublished - 10 Oct 2023
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Digestate
  • Life cycle assessment
  • Organic fertilizer
  • Sand filter
  • Small-scale digesters
  • Vermifilter

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